Inge Rätsep, CEO and owner of Interlex, accepted an extra challenge last fall, taking over the reins of Skuuper, Estonia's first translation technology start-up. Rätsep, who has been active for nearly 20 years on the Estonian and European translation markets, talks about Skuuper and why she believes in it.
The development of machine translation has taken a quantum leap forward in the past few years, and it has become evident that cooperation between man and machine holds an increasingly important place in the future of the field of translation. Interlex acquired a stake in Skuuper because it believes that the future of the field of translation is connected to the development of technology, with Skuuper representing great potential for this.
The technological solution employed by Skuuper allows field specific text libraries to be collected, cleaned and consolidated, thereby reducing the amount of time and money spent on translation by up to 50 per cent, depending on the specificity, and up to 90 per cent in exceptional cases. It is a tool that is available to regular people, but also a significant time-saving solution for the state and private companies.
Why did you decide to take on the responsibility of leading Skuuper?
The road to Skuuper was quite long, but also unexpected. Our initial contact occurred in the spring of 2017, when we discussed how Interlex could help with the testing and development of the CAT tool. Since Interlex has many years of experience on the translation market, as well as extensive experience when it comes to using different translation tools, we tried the CAT tool, in order to provide it with feedback.
Without even realising it, the owners of Skuuper and I began discussing the possibility of my advising Skuuper in terms of management and sales; until, one fine day, I was presented with the proposition to sign on as the CEO of the company. By that time, Skuuper had already undergone its first phase of development and was in need of a slightly different kind of management than had been required during the active development phase. Which is how I ended up at Skuuper, starting in September 2017. Since I believe in its success, I came to the company along with an investment.
What, to you, makes Skuuper unique?
Even though translation assistance tools have been available to professionals for more than a decade, they remain far removed from regular users — due to their complex user environments as well as price. What makes Skuuper unique is that it also attempts to resolve the need for translation by so-called mere mortals. If you are interested, machine translation is available, although manual translation is also possible from start to finish.
What, in your opinion, is Skuuper’s greatest potential?
For me, personally, the greatest potential lies in combining the Skuuper CAT tool and the translation portal. Recently, several private sector companies have come out with a series of innovative ideas on how to make public administration faster, more transparent, and cheaper.
We also see the potential in Skuuper to make it faster, more convenient, and cheaper for the state to administer and order the translation service it needs. The state could administer all of its language resources through a single centre. And our translation portal solution, along with the CAT tool, is well-suited to serve as that centre.
The Skuuper translation portal could also be used in the same way by private companies.